The concept of the four-day work week may seem strange to some, but several businesses have adopted it as everyday practice. Some cut their scheduled operations down to 32 hours a week, trusting the change may result in an increase in productivity to make up for the missing time. Many businesses extend their days to 10 hours, maintaining a 40-hour week. While some businesses find they can thrive on this schedule, others struggle.
Your business may be able to extend its daily operations if employees are happy to work longer throughout the week to have an additional day off every weekend. On the other hand, you could discover the four-day week is difficult to schedule or your employees may operate better on a traditional five-day week.
If you own a business this scheduling style is worth considering. However, it is important to take the advantages and disadvantages into account before attempting the change. The sections below go over upsides and downsides of adopting a four-day work week.
Pro: More Office Hours Increase Productivity
While some companies may cut back to a four-day week without changing the number of hours in a workday, it is common practice to adopt a ten-hour day instead. This can result in a higher level of productivity, as workers can commit more thoroughly to their tasks over the course of a longer day.
However, they may have to reconsider how they approach their work, as the long days require careful distribution of energy. Your workers may be able to learn how to make the best possible use of their time once they have settled into the routine of a four-day week.
The extra hours could fall at the beginning of the workday, or at the end. Employees can use this quieter time to focus on their work, particularly if not everyone at their workplace is operating on the same schedule. Additionally, some customers, clients and business contacts might appreciate having extended hours available, even if it means that you only operate for four days per week rather than five.
Con: Long Hours Drain Employees
Not all workplaces can allow their workers to adapt their energy levels to different tasks at different times of the day. For many jobs, particularly those that are physically demanding, a 10-hour day has the potential to be dangerously exhausting. A worker can lose focus and ability as the day goes on if he or she does not have the option of turning to a simpler task such as answering emails.
Some workers might feel pressure to work harder during their four days, resulting in heightened levels of stress. Even if the days are longer, they could find their mental resources have depleted to the point where the additional hours become worthless. In that case, a four-day work week would not help employees or the company.
Pro: Save on Operating Expenses
Any day a business is open means it is spending money, whether on security, maintenance or utilities. Cutting down on the number of days the business is open could significantly reduce the running costs. Employees may find themselves spending less money on commuting as well.
They are travelling fewer days per week and are less likely to commute during the rush hour. For some, the cost of childcare might be lowered, depending on their circumstances. Therefore, cutting down on workdays could save both the office and the employees funding without necessarily lowering productivity.
Con: Pay and Benefit Issues
If a company reduces its working days without increasing its working hours or pay rate to compensate, employees could see their pay checks shrink as a result. Many workers may not consider the extra day off to be worth the drop they see in salary or hourly wages.
Some workplaces may struggle with their benefit programs because of a restricted work week. For example, if employees accumulate vacation days based on how many days they spend in the office, it could take longer to accumulate them. As a result, workers would have less vacation time overall.
Pro: Employees Have Positive Attitudes
Having an extra day off can greatly impact your workers’ attitudes, even if they must work extra hours every day as a result. For most employees, a shorter work week adds flexibility and freedom to their lives, creating a better work-life balance. They could spend more time with their families, pursue other interests, or travel during their extended time off. Meeting employees’ needs in this way can result in increased loyalty to your company.
Workers might be willing to put in more daily effort when they have a three-day weekend to look forward to. Additionally, they may take less time off overall, because they experience less stress. As a result, you could see more consistent attendance with a shorter work week.
Con: Mismatched Schedules Affect Communication
Some of the biggest issues associated with a four-day work week are simply due to how uncommon the practice is. While an increasing number of companies are adopting four-day work weeks, it is important to acknowledge most businesses and services still operate on a five-day week. As a result, employees can find their schedules do not line up with those of others. If you switch to a four-day week, you could face the following scheduling issues:
- Professional issues develop when you have customers and clients who operate on a more traditional schedule. Customers may try to access your services on a Friday only to discover they have to wait until Monday to reach you. As a result, you could lose customers to competitors who are open five days a week. Other companies may become frustrated if they cannot contact you on certain days. At the same time, you may be limited by your extended operating hours. Your employees may be onsite early in the morning or late at night, but they may not be able to contact others during those additional hours.
- Personal issues can develop after a change of hours. For example, if you implement a ten-hour day, your employees may need to seek additional childcare services, which can add up quickly. Additionally, they might have little to gain from an extra day off when their friends and family are still working on this day.
Additional Resource: Here’s where you can have a 4-day work week. Is this the next big thing? -USA Today